I’ve never been much of a summer girl (though a certain LFO song is a guilty pleasure of mine), that is, the traditional trappings of summer generally don’t appeal to me. Fair of hair and skin, I burn in the shade, and I don’t swim, so pools and beaches for the most part are out. Mosquitoes love me, though I can’t say the feeling is reciprocated. And don’t get me started on summertime heat and humidity, the mere thought nearly triggers the beading of sweat on my lower back.
As a child, I never really understood the appeal of the barbecue, which to some I’m sure is near heresy. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the social nature of the gathering, that I got early on; I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly – my mom likes to say that I started talking early at nine months and never stopped. What left me a bit stumped was the standard fare. Most of the classics (hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw and potato salad) still fall on my “no-chew” list, it’s not that any of those foods are bad, I just didn’t, and still for the most part don’t enjoy red meat, ketchup or mayonnaise. Well wishing relatives would grill up some chicken slathered in barbecue sauce, but I’ve never found the sweet and smoky flavors appealing. So, most times I’d end up eating a hamburger bun or two and an ungodly amount of potato chips.
WAH WAH, you say? Now, I’m not a complete sourpuss, I’m fully capable of appreciating the beauty of late June sunsets, and the weekday picnics they allow; I too fall prey to the glorious summertime produce: juicy berries, plump tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and fragrant peaches, to list a few favorites. In recent years I’ve even learned to love the occasional barbecue, especially if I’m doing the cooking. Really, they’re just the fun, casual cousin to the dinner party.
I can still safely say that I don’t enjoy hamburgers, having tried bites of my boyfriend Andrew’s attempts to sway my judgement, but get a few drinks in me and I’ll happily gobble down a bacon-wrapped hot dog (drizzled with mustard and nothing else – baby steps). The real beauty of the barbecue (at least to me) is the variety it allows. Others can enjoy their steak, burger, or hot dog, while I have a grilled sausage or piece of salmon; it all comes together when they’re kissed with a bit of smoke and flame.
What exactly does a nectarine and raspberry crumble have to do with barbecue, you ask? Well, one Sunday not too long ago, Andrew and I had a few friends over for a backyard barbecue, and since I’m maybe just a bit difficult, I decided to make a crumble along these lines (I may have swapped blackberries for the raspberries). While it’s not a grilled dessert, I think it fits in quite well with the idea of a barbecue, it doesn’t muck around too much with the flavors of the sun-ripened fruit, and once it was in the oven it was left to do its own thing ’til it was time to pull it out to be devoured.
P.S. Check back tomorrow (Thursday) for a new feature!
Over this summer I’ve fiddled with this “recipe” numerous times, but I generally stick to a formula of roughly equal amounts of some sliced (and peeled, if I’m feeling fancy) stone fruit (generally nectarine or peach) and a tart berry (raspberry or blackberry) topped with a crumbly oat topping. Feel free to fiddle around with other variations, these are just what I’ve gravitated towards; as long as the fruit is ripe and fragrant it’s bound to be delicious. This can also easily be scaled up or down depending on desired amount of servings. When I’m eating this as a dessert I tend to top it with lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or even just a drizzle of cream. For breakfast, I eat it cold out of the fridge with an equal portion of unsweetened Greek yogurt, so it’s a bit more nutritionally balanced and I can eat dessert for breakfast guilt-free.
4 nectarines, sliced to a medium thickness (I get about 10 per fruit)
≈ 12 oz raspberries
the zest and juice of 1-2 limes (to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
¼ cup (1 ¾ oz) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (5 oz) cup all purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup + 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
14 tablespoons (7 oz) unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon cinnamon
a hefty pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
heaping ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Gently toss together (with your hands) the fruit, lime zest and juice, thyme, ¼ cup brown sugar, and cornstarch til the fruit is evenly coated. Spread in an even layer in an 8×8″ (or similar volume) square pan.
For the topping, mix together the flour, oats, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, til well, crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the fruit until well coated*.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned and the aroma of the baking crumble fills the air.
*I had extra crumble topping, and you will too unless you like a particularly heavy hand on the crumble, so I froze the extra in a small ziplock bag to use on an individual fruit crumble in the future. For assembly toss together a small amount (enough to fill a small ramekin) of fruit of your choice with a bit of sugar and citrus juice/zest and top with extra crumble topping. Bake at 400 until top is lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. You also might have a bit extra of the fruit layer – if this happens to you, EAT IT, yum.